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Eugene delays vote to raise penalties on RV parking violations

 Tent, cart, and RV on city street
Brian Bull
A row of vehicles and tents line a Eugene street. A proposal the Eugene City Council is considering would empower the city to impound vehicles that are repeatedly cited for parking violations. It would also significantly increase fines.

The Eugene City Council voted Monday night to delay a plan that would have significantly increased penalties for RVs and other large vehicles that repeatedly break parking rules.

Under the proposal, RV owners that overstay time limits, block mailboxes or dump sewage could face hundreds of dollars in fines. If they’re cited repeatedly, their vehicle could be impounded.

Councilor Lyndsie Leech said the people most likely to be cited–those experiencing homelessness–can’t afford the current $50 fine and are even less likely to pay the proposed $300 penalty.

“So we're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars issuing, processing and collecting fines, and 99% of people can't, or don't pay this fine,” she said.

Her concerns were shared by council member Alan Zelenka, who argued fines aren’t an effective deterrent for people already living in poverty.

“The problem with enforcing (against) people with nothing to lose is that you don’t gain anything,” he said.

Some council members raised concerns about a delay, or rewrite. Councilor Randy Groves noted that the city has made progress on making safe sleep sites and providing other resources for people experiencing homelessness.

He said neighborhoods, especially those in his West Eugene ward, have valid sanitation and safety concerns about illegal dumping and motor homes impeding traffic on narrow streets.

“At some point we need to make decisions and we have a lot of people that are counting on us to protect them,” he said.

The proposal would have also removed the maximum amount the city can charge for metered parking from city code.

Jeff Petry, Curbside and Admin Services Director for the city of Eugene, said the ordinance would allow staff to adjust parking meter prices.

“At some point in the 1980s we had a maximum charge allowed for on street meters, hourly rates at $2 an hour,” he said, “And what is proposed to the council is to remove that maximum so we can use the market to determine what the rates are.”

The only increase planned for now is $2.50 per hour around the University of Oregon.

The city council voted to ask the city manager to schedule a work session on the parking ordinance so city council members can discuss revisions.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.